Summer High School Programs in Cambodia with Rustic Pathways

Video and Photos

Our Boat as a Playground
Our Boat as a Playground
Green of a Temple
Green of a Temple
Temples of Angkor City
Temples of Angkor City
watching elephants at the Elephant Valley Project
watching elephants at the Elephant Valley Project
Sunset from the Floating Villages of Prek Toal
Sunset from the Floating Villages of Prek Toal

About

Cambodia is a country with a painful past and a hopeful future. Rustic Pathways has partnered with social enterprises and local community development organizations since 1999 to help students gain a deep understanding of the beautiful, complex realities of Cambodia. Our staff members are skilled at teaching while keeping it fun, and students often leave with a changed perspective on their own lives.

The ancient temples of Angkor Wat are jaw-dropping, the rural countryside shimmers with brilliant green rice fields, and the incredibly friendly locals are eager to show you around. Amongst the beauty, you’ll also be exposed to the pressing social and economic issues facing the country. The contrast can be shocking, but it can also be positively transformational.

Scholarships

Rustic Pathways Scholarships
Rustic Pathways Scholarships and Financial Aid

Rustic Pathways is committed to making life-changing opportunities possible for students worldwide. We know how impactful our programs are, and continually strive to make them more accessible to all students.

Value
$1,000 - $5,000

Popular Programs

Woman smiling in Cambodia.

Join this incredibly unique service adventure in Cambodia. Travel through the Tonle Sap waterways on the Rustic Pathways riverboat, completing community service projects in a floating village and spending time with your homestay family. Journey through Battambang province’s fertile rice fields, take a trip on a bamboo train and hike up to hill-top temples. Learn about Cambodia’s ancient and modern history as you tour the genocide museums in Phnom Penh.

Ankor Wat, Cambodia.

Combine four fascinating countries into one spectacular adventure featuring amazing attractions and premier hotels. In Thailand, visit jaw-dropping temples, enjoy ringside Muay Thai seats, and ride elephants through the jungle. In Laos, explore UNESCO World Heritage site Luang Prabang. In Cambodia, marvel at Angkor Wat and tour the floating villages of the Tonle Sap. In Vietnam, lose yourself in the wonders of Old Hanoi and cruise Ha Long Bay.

Two people sharing a smile in Cambodia.

Join our amazing local staff as they take you off-the-beaten-path in your exploration of the Kingdom of Wonder. Walk among the bustling streets of Phnom Penh and visit its historical sites to learn about Cambodia’s past. Relax on beautiful beaches in Sihanoukville and journey across the mountains and jungles of Cambodia’s northeast provinces. Work on infrastructure initiatives at local schools across Cambodian’s rural countryside and visit floating villages along the Tonle Sap Lake.

Questions & Answers

Reviews

96%
based on 28 reviews
  • Impact 9.4
  • Support 9.8
  • Fun 9.7
  • Value 9.3
  • Safety 9.8
  • Growth 9.6
  • Support 9.8
  • Fun 9.2
  • Housing 8.6
  • Safety 9.4
Showing 16 - 28 of 28
Default avatar
Kylie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Rustic is more than Travel (Off the map: Cambodia)

Rustic Pathways is Truly amazing. I traveled with a different program to South Africa last year and it was not nearly this life changing. This year i traveled to Cambodia with Rustic pathways on the Off the Map: Cambodia program. On our trip there was 17 students(sold out) 13 girls and 4 boys. From the very beginning our leaders were amazing, they both knew so much about the world and had so many experiences and lessons that i learned so much from. I could not say any more wonderful things about my one leader she literally changed my perspective so much i cant even explain it and I've only been home for 2 days. During the program we went to a lot of the country where we stayed in nice hotels for a day or two to see the temples and museums then for most of the trip we were out in the villages in home stays. That was the most trans-formative part of the trip. I already knew that people didn't have a lot there but i learned so much more that is just indescribable through my peers, our leaders, and the community. Then we went to a few more schools to do some service work and fix up their grounds. Then we went to the elephant valley project which get elephants from their abusive environment either from riding them in tourism, or working in an industry like logging. Then they are brought to the valley of Mondulkuri in the mountains of Cambodia. It was absolutely beautiful and lush but full of a lot of bugs which is just part of the experience. We also went to a lot of waterfalls in between this. Now the drives to these places are long but so worth it. This is because you get to know your peers and leaders so much better and you got to go to so many different places in Cambodia in 25 days. I learned so much from my peers and that was part of the wonderful experience. The food was always great no matter if it was traditional Khmer food or a western or Indian restaurant. Usually by the end of the day everyone was so full we couldn't even eat dinner. Also during the home stays we had our own cooks so the food was always good and safe. At the end of the program we went to the floating villages and built a house there, that was floating! That was my favorite service project and home stay. This was because it was so unique. Then we went to Angkor Wat which was just as great as the pictures. We went to 3 different temples and it was very interesting to learn about it and we got to see many wild monkeys. I don't have enough words to describe my wonderful experience and how much it has changed me. I encourage you to go on this trip or any trip with Rustic because we do so many things that help other people and ultimately help ourselves in the process. Thank you Rustic!

What would you improve about this program?
Nothing could have been better it was all amazing!
Default avatar
Michelle
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Interesting, and safe, but missed opportunities

I'm writing as a parent. My daughter just completed the Floating Villages trip to Cambodia. This was her second trip with Rustic Pathways. She enjoyed it, though not quite as much as the trip to Tanzania. It wasn't as "rustic", with a lot more hotel stays and general tourism. She knew that would be the case before going. In the event, she was disappointed that the group didn't take more advantage of the opportunities to visit museums and sights. She says they spent just 1.5 hours at Angkor Wat because the majority of the group wanted to go back to the hotel "to rest" (aka play with their phones), and this happened several times. The group leaders needed to be more forceful about saying "you have this amazing opportunity, you can rest any time" and actually leading them. Her impression is that most of the kids had been sent by their parents - whereas she had actually selected the trip - and that made them less enthusiastic travelers. She doesn't plan to take another trip with Rustic, though she thinks our middle school daughter would get something out of it.

What would you improve about this program?
Make sure the participants actually want to be there. Don't be so wimpy about the activity timetable. Less time in hotels. Fewer connecting flights on the trip out so the travel doesn't take two days!
Default avatar
Izzy
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Best experiance of my life

I went on this trip thinking i was going to help others but when i got there i realized i was also helping myself, I helped out in schools and built a home for a struggling family while at the same time i made friends that will last a life time, i clicked with the people on my trip faster than my friends at home because the people on my trip where more like me. This program is definatley something everyone should do, i came home wiser and more aware of my surroundings while knowing i helped Cambodian people. Im definalty going on another rustic trip next year -Izzy

What would you improve about this program?
When you fly home the LAX kids and JFK kids are seperated in singapore, we only had 3 minutes to say goodbye, it wasnt long enough.
Default avatar
Julia
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Floating Village Project

Cambodia is one of the most interesting and beautiful places I've ever been to. Siem Reap is a great city and Angkor Wat was amazing. But the best part about my trip was getting to stay in the floating villages and stay on a boat. The people are so welcoming and the kids are so friendly. The way of life in this village is drastically different than anything I've ever seen before. All of the houses are completely floating and move in location year round due to water levels. They keep crocodiles in farms, and go out on their boats every morning to fish. This experience was unforgettable, because I never expected to see anything like that in my life. I made good friends from America and across the world on this crazy adventure that i will never forget.

Default avatar
qwerty
7/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Off The Map: Cambodia

I thought that the trip overall was amazing. I got to experience completely new and unexpected things, ranging from riding an elephant through the jungle, to getting a fish massage in Siem Riep. The only issue I had was the social aspect of it. The group was larger than usual, so there were lots of kids... meaning 2 giant groups with subcliques. But if you're reading this and thinking, 'ooh i better not do this program then', then please consider the fact that every group is different and I may have just gotten a bad combination of kids. Plus, the staff definitely tried their hardest to bond us with games in the first few days. But the trip itself was an experience that I am so grateful to have had, and I did meet a lot of wonderful staff members and friends that will last a lifetime!! Thank you Rustic!!!

What would you improve about this program?
Not as many people!
Default avatar
Zia
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Great Time

This is a trip to always remember. I have always been intrigued by Cambodian history, and actually visiting all the places (S-21, Angkor Wat) was amazing. Not only that, but we got to do a home stay in a village which was incredible; we got to have a traditional Cambodian meal with the locals, while walking around their village. It was absolutely wonderful! The staff was extremely nice and friendly and definitely contributed to the wonderful experience.

What would you improve about this program?
The length I stayed-- I wish I had gone for longer.
Default avatar
LOVEDCAMBODIA
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Great time!

One of the best experiences i had. The staff were great the service work was fantastic and educational. The main drawback was the high cost of the trip and flying with rustic pathways was very expensive.

Default avatar
Diana
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Cambodia Children's Project

This experience was one of the most exciting, fascinating, and rewarding things I have ever done in my life. Being able to travel to such a far distance from home and still feel welcomed by the leaders and by the community was an amazing part of this trip. I learned so much about the Cambodian culture, and I've honestly fallen in love with this country thanks to Rustic. I'm planning on studying abroad in Cambodia in college, and I'm taking another trip with Rustic this summer!

Default avatar
dalh2755
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Cambodia Orphanage Project

I don't think I have ever connected and had as much fun with kids in my life. Even with a language barrier, I still made best friends for life that I will definitely one day have to go back and see once again. Monks and Rustic Pathways staff were amazing, food was incredible, and everything about Cambodia that we saw made me crave more experiences exactly like it. I think I learned more in my 11 days in the State then a whole year at school. Just simply breathtaking!

Response from Rustic Pathways

Wonderful to hear you had such a positive experience in Cambodia with us. We strongly believe these programs are powerful educational opportunities, and it's great to hear you thought so as well! Thank you for the review.

Default avatar
Danielle
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Cambodia: Off the Map

Junior year, my best friend and I decided to do a trip with rustic pathways. I had really hoped to do an environmentally focused trip however my friend had a different idea. He wanted to explore more of the social, historical and cultural aspects of Cambodia. As an open personal I agreed to doing the Off the Map trip instead (thank goodness I did!)

The trip really did take us through Cambodia exposing us to the beauty it had to offer. We explored the rugged jungle on elephants, walked along the Rabbit Island's sandy beaches, shopped in the urban markets of Phnom Penh, toured the French colonial city of Kampot, watched for dolphins on a river tour, taught Cambodian orphans English, helped to build a new library, hiked up Bokor mountain, visited the world famous temple, Angkor Wat and visited the killing fields. The trip without a doubt made 2011 the best summer of my life.

Default avatar
BCK123
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The Amazing Place Crammed between Thailand and Vietnam

After the painful 36 hours of flying to the other side of the world, I finally landed in the exotic lands of Southeast Asia. With swollen ankles and tired eyes, the Rustic Pathways groups split apart and were welcomed to Phnom Penh by the ironically named Mr. Thai and a young, shy Khmer man named Sokheng.

After resting for the night in a hotel that exceeded my expectations, the group embarked on the first day of the trip to Rabbit Island. A 3 or so hour drive to the coast, followed by a 20 minute boat ride brought us to the quiet, secluded bungalows and beaches of Rabbit Island. The rooms consisted of a mattress and a mosquito net, and the quietness of the whole scene made for a peaceful break from the developed world.

The couple days following we strolled through the French influenced town of Kampot. Massages from the blind and testing of traditional Khmer foods ensued. Just on the outskirts of town is Cambodia's tallest mountain, Bokor Mountain. We rode in open bed trucks to see the developing resort site, but further along the road was a trip into Cambodia's colonial history with a dilapidated French casino and church.

We returned to Phnom Penh after Kampot and this is where we delved into the dark recent history of Cambodia. We visited the S-21 Genocide Museum and The Killing Fields. We saw second hand the terror of the Khmer Rouge. Although the sites were depressing, seeing the rising skyline of Phnom Penh indicates a bright future for the nation in one of the world's fastest growing regions of the world.

The longest drive of the trip brought the group to Mondulkiri -- a remote town in the mountains of Cambodia. However, along the way our group got a taste of the infamous fried tarantulas -- taste a bit like terriyaki beef jerky, so I recommend taking a sample! In Mondulkiri we rode elephants through the trails viewing the less crowded side of Cambodia, and we enjoyed the tranquility of a riverside lunch and a show of elephants cleaning themselves.
A few days later we made our way to Kratie to see the dwindling population of river dolphins. While there were some hectic scenes of bumper boats, we still witnessed these endangered creatures in their homes in the Mekong.

The next stay of the trip was the most meaningful, we built the foundation of a library for an orphanage in Kampong Cham. We worked and played games with the orphans, and they even showed us their English skills by reading children's books. The orphanage is still developing, and Rustic Pathways has really started something special there!

The grand finale of our trip was in Siem Reap. Here we walked into the ancient temples of the Khmer Empire. While Angkor Wat is the most famous, the surrounding temples are just as awe-inspiring and made a fantastic last visit for the trip. After the temples, Mr. Thai took us on a surprise trip to a waterfall in the mountains surrounding Siem Reap. There were few tourists in the area and the beautiful falls also made a nice swimming hole underneath.
All in all, Cambodia: Off the Map helped make summer 2011 easily the best summer of my life. While the sites and food are fun aspects of the country, the wonderful, kind people make it a truly special place that anyone should try to visit!

Default avatar
alb7
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The most influential experience of my life.

We we working hands-on and together with the staff of the program,which included locals, each-other, and the people of the community. The work was interactive and rewarding, as well as fun. It was clear that we were really making differences for individuals as well as the whole of the community. I defiantly felt immersed in another culture and gained many new understandings of other ways of life then the one I am accustomed to.

Default avatar
HappyCamper
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Loved it! Would go again in a heart beat!

I went to Cambodia, on an Orphanage trip during the summer of 2010, and I loved very second of it. Rustic was a wonderful program and offered a lot of financial aid which made my trip possible. They made it really simple to connect separate programs and go from one country to another. Travelling was a little mind numbing, but that is the only negative experience I had during my entire trip. As a young teen traveling by myself, I was nervous before I left, but I always felt safe and looked after while abroad. We stayed in a hotel, which offered a cool space to sleep with a television and a much welcomed clean shower. Internet was only a 5 minutes walk down the road and we always travelled with supervision. We worked at the orphanage each morning until mid afternoon; it was hard work but always well appreciated. During my trip, we built a stage of tile, so that the children could put on recitals to raise money for the orphanage; rebuilt roads that had sunk and flooded, worked in the rice paddies and also spent a lot of time bonding with the children there. We were also given the opportunity to visit some popular tourists sites and learn a lot about the Cambodian culture. It's a truly wonderful experience that I would recommend to anyone.